Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Liberty Blue Dinnerware

I just love the history behind this pattern. The Benjamin Franklin Federal Savings bank, established in 1925, commissioned the Enoch Wedgwood company, in Staffordshire England, to make special dinnerware to commemorate their 50 year anniversary. The result was Liberty Blue, made exclusively for the bank in 1975 and 1976. New account holders who made a deposit of $50 were offered a four-piece place setting. After the bank ended their promotion, grocery stores allowed customers to buy pieces with their grocery purchases.

Liberty Blue is a great addition to my china wardrobe as it pairs well with my red, white, and blue china pieces. The blue and white is timeless and classic and the scenes.

Liberty Dinnerware pieces:
~Teacup, Paul Revere
~Saucer, Old North Church
~Covered Sugar Bowl, Betsy Ross, Sewing the Flag
~Creamer, Paul Revere's Ride
~Teapot, Minutemen 
~Coffee Mug, Monticello
~Dinner Plate, 10", Independence Hall
~Luncheon Plate, 9", Washington at Valley Forge
~Dessert Plate 7", Washington Leaving Christ Church
~Platter, 12", Governor's House at Williamsburg
~Platter, 14", Washington Crossing the Delaware
~Platter, 18" and 20", Declaration of Independence
~Round Vegetable Bowl, Frances Tavern, Scene of Washington's Farewell to the Continental Army
~Oval Vegetable Bowl, Minutemen 
~Salt and Pepper Shakers, Paul Revere's Ride
~Butter Dish, Lafayette Landing at West Point
~Bread and Butter Plate 6", Monticello Thomas Jefferson's Home
~Fruit Bowl, Betsy Ross, Sewing the Flag
~Cereal Bowl, Mt. Vernon, George Washington's Home
~Soup Tureen, Minutemen
~Soup Tureen Lid, Boston Tea Party
~Soup Ladle, Solid White
~Soup Bowl, Old North Church
~Covered Vegetable, Boston Tea Party
~Covered Vegetable Lid, Lafayette Landing 
~Gravy Boat, Lafayette Landing 
~Gravy Boat Stand, Governor's House at Williamsburg
~Coasters/Ashtrays, Independence Hall, Valley Forge, Old North Church
~Pitcher, Old North Church
~Placecards, American Eagle

I'm always on the lookout for new pieces to add to my collection!  The Liberty Blue Dinnerware book includes photos and illustrations of the extensive variety of all the pieces of the collection. 

 This book is available in my Amazon storefront at

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Royal Ascot

King Charles III and Queen Camilla arrive at Royal Ascot, June 20, 2023

The history of Royal Ascot dates back over 300 years to the time of Queen Anne (1665-1714). Ascot Racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne. The annual race meeting, which occurs each June at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England, remains a mix of pomp, tradition, fashion, and sport. It has been described as a mix of a royal wedding and the Kentucky Derby, except boozier.

Royal Ascot is a major event in the British social calendar and press coverage of the attendees and their attire often exceeds coverage of the actual racing. While fashion and attendees is a large part of Royal Ascot it is also the most valuable race meet in Britain.

Every year Royal Ascot was attended by the late Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British Royal Family. Since 1825 the first highlight of every day is the arrival of the Royal procession at 2pm. Four horse-drawn carriages carry the royals along the seven furlong straight mile first past the Windsor Enclosure then the Queen Anne Enclosure and Royal Enclosure before traveling under the grandstand to the Parade Ring. This year, upon the King's arrival, there will be the raising of the King's Royal Standard and the days racing can commence.

Ascot Racecourse

The pre-gaming in the parking lot is even fancier than tailgating at an Old Miss football game. Bollinger champagne, Pimm's cocktails, thousands of cups of tea, and copious pints of Guinness beer fuels the crowd, Lobster rolls and finger sandwiches replace typical tailgating foods. It is definitely an elegant affair that I would love to attend!

Lobster is de rigueur

Champagne is the beverage of choice

Ladies and Gentlemen are dressed in their finest to attend this event

Friday, June 16, 2023

Trooping the Colour

On Saturday, June 17, 2023, the British royal family will come together for the first birthday parade of King Charles' reign--Trooping the Colour.  What is Trooping the Colour? Trooping the Colour is the annual birthday parade for the British sovereign as well as a celebration of the armed forces. King Charles' actual birthday is November 14th, when he will have a more private celebration. 

The ceremonial presentation of the military's regimental flags, called 'colours,' was first started by King George II in 1748. His November birthday was deemed too cold for a celebratory parade, which prompted him to tie his public celebrations with the annual Trooping the Colour military parade. It was under King Edward VII's reign that the summer 'official' celebrations included the inspection of the troops by the monarch.

In order to ensure that every soldier would be able to recognize their colours, the flag would be marched or 'trooped' regularly round the ranks. A regiment's colours came to have huge significance for serving soldiers, and the gain or loss of colours were seen as decisive moments in battle.

Over 1,500 soldiers, 300 horses, and 400 musicians will take part in Trooping the Colour. The King will arrive and receive a royal salute before he inspects the troops, which will be dressed in ceremonial uniforms and bearskin hats.

His Majesty The King will take the Salute as Colonel in Chief of the seven regiments of the Household Division. This will mark the first time that the reigning Monarch will be on horseback at Trooping the Colour since 1986, when Queen Elizabeth II last rode.

Members of the British royal family will travel by horse-drawn carriages or on horseback. The King will lead the procession to Buckingham Palace and then take another salute from the dais. Charles will then lead members of the royal family out on the palace balcony. The Royal Air Force will perform a colorful flypast and there will also be a 41-gun salute fired from nearby Green Park.

King Charles is the colonel-in-chief of the seven regiments of the household division. Prince William is the colonel of the Welsh Guards. William's wife Catherine is the honorary colonel of the Irish Guards. Queen Camilla is the colonel of the Grenadier Guards. Princess Anne is the colonel of the Blues and Royals. The Duke of Kent is the colonel of the Scots Guards. 

Juno the "Major"

Juno will carry the rank of "Major" and lead the parade down The Mall.  Her Majesty The Queen presented the formal classical name "Juno," Goddess of marriage and childbirth, to the Household Cavalry's first ever female Drum Horse who will pass off on the Trooping of the Colour parade. Juno is ten years old and has a dappled, dark bay coat and four large white socks. The Welsh Shire Horse mare, known previously by her stable name, Willa Rose, has been training for her role leading the Mounted Band of the Household Cavalry in Royal Procession for two years. Saturday will be her official graduation parade as the official Drum Horse of the Life Guards. She will be dressed in her full state ceremonial finery carrying the priceless Silver Kettle Drums of the Life Guards Regiment.

Prince William carrying out the colonel's review at TOTC rehearsals earlier this week

The royals we should expect to see:

Prince William and Princess Catherine with their three children--Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. Princess Anne and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence, Prince Edward and Sophie, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh with their children, Lady Louise and James, Earl of Wessex, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Zara Tindall, and Peter Phillips.  I'm looking forward to pageantry, fashion and glimpses of the royal children.

It is rumored that the Duke of Sussex and his wife were not invited, so that's that.  Also, Prince Andrew will not take part in the ceremony.

The BBC will start their coverage of the event at 10:30 a.m., London time...which means that anglophiles like myself will be getting up before dawn!  The Anglophiles in the U.S. will be able to watch the parade on the BBC or a live stream on You Tube.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Afternoon Tea at the Oxford Exchange

Over the weekend, I enjoyed Afternoon Tea at The Oxford Exchange in Tampa.  It's a large renovated 1890's building in downtown Tampa, Florida. The arched wood-paneled hallways and marble floors are something you would see in London, rather than Tampa. The OE is part bookshop, part champagne bar, part tea bar, part coffee counter, part gift shop, and a restaurant. Afternoon tea is served in the Conservatory, adjacent to the restaurant. 

The bookshop is full of best sellers and hardback classics.

There is even a Warby Parker eyeglass shop.

The gift shop is full of globally-inspired decor, coffee table books, and lots of candles.

The Champagne Bar is lovely and was very busy with customers sipping the bubbly champagne cocktails. The air was blissfully fragrant with all the fresh floral arrangements throughout the area.

Te Bella Tea Company has a bar with a wide selection of tea (45 teas in the collection).

The Buddy Brew Coffee Company has a counter—they are a Tampa-based craft coffee roaster serving up coffee specialty drinks and pastries.

The restaurant and Conservatory are both light and airy. I have had lunch in the restaurant before and it was fabulous!  The service was great as well.

The Afternoon Tea was held in the Conservatory.  We chose the Royal Afternoon Tea:  Savories, Scones, and Sweets, with tea and champagne. 

I chose the Lavender Earl Grey Tea--a blend of bergamot, lavender, and jasmine;  My friend Diana had the Earl Grey Creme--a blend of bergamot, creme, and French vanilla; Diana's daughter Natalie chose the Milk Oolong--It was a creamy, floral Chinese tea.  We switched and swapped to taste each other's tea and they were all very good!  All the teas were from the Te Bella Tea Company.

I give the Oxford Exchange Royal Afternoon Tea Five Silver Spoons. The service, tea foods, and tea were all great and the ambiance was delightful.
Five Silver Spoons for The Oxford Exchange Experience!

Reservations are required and you will definitely want to make them in advance as the OE is a very popular spot. The Oxford Exchange is located at 420 W. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, Florida.  For more information, go to

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Front Row at King Charles III's Procession

What a week we had in London!  It was an opportunity of a lifetime to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III with longtime friends.  Of course we spent a lot of time seeing historic sites, but the King’s Procession was the main event. 

Our first day in London we decided to case out a location to view the Procession.  We chose an area along The Mall, which leads from Admirality Arch to Buckingham Palace. Avid royalists had been camping out for weeks to ensure that they had a front-row view of the Procession. 

I ended up with a front row on-the-rail spot and here’s how it happened. Friday evening before the Coronation, we headed to The Mall around 11:00 pm.  It was even more packed with people than the day we checked it out.  It didn’t look good for us to find a nice viewing spot where we would be able to see the royals in the carriages. As it turned out, there was a walkway crossing The Mall (for those who wanted to walk across The Mall to a park and watch the event on the big screen). We decided to hang out at the walkway right where we figured the rail would close at 6:00 am. Numerous times a security guard told me to move back and I did but I also kept creeping forward again. One time he said to me “It’s you again…Don’t think I don’t recognize you!”  (Before my trip my brother had told me to behave and not get arrested but I had to get the spot upfront)! This was around 5:00 am and people were flooding in through the walkway to get to the park. They were supposed to shut down the walkway at 6:00am but I could sense that it would be done earlier. I kept my eyes on the security people and the rail. All of a sudden, I could see them shutting the rail and I ran and got my front-row spot! All the while yelling at my friends to run behind me.

So, now I had a coveted spot. It was 5:00 am and I had already been standing for six hours since 11pm. I had a pain in my left foot and I was hurting. When the rails were closed, now everyone was standing shoulder to shoulder and we were packed in like sardines. I started thinking how was I going to make it until 10:20am. It was almost inhumane!! We couldn’t move. We were all saying to each other, “I’m not going to make it!” I had come to London to see the Procession so I just kept hanging in there. My legs and feet were numb and it was cold. 

At 9:10am we got some action. The Foot Guards of the Household Division marched down The Mall to line the street on both sides. The 'street liners' were placed at five pace intervals along the procession route. Throughout the event, I was an arm’s length away from a guard. They certainly strike a dashing pose in their tunics and bearskin hats, a true look of pomp and splendour. The hats are made from pelts of culled Canadian black bears—they are warm and water resistant. The 18” tall hats have been worn for more than 200 years, making the soldiers appear taller and more intimidating. Each hat cost roughly 650 pounds and each one weighs two pounds.

It was becoming a beautiful sight to see with the flags of every commonwealth alongside numerous Union Jacks. The King's Guards put on a display of precise marching while we waited for King Charles and Queen Camilla to depart Buckingham Palace enroute to Westminster Abbey. 

10:20am The King’s Procession began with troop movements from the Armed Forces, led by the Sovereign's Escort of the Household Calvary.  The King and Queen road in the Diamond Jubilee Coach, which cost four million dollars to make, has electric windows and air conditioning, weighs over three tons, and requires six horses to pull it. Six Windsor Greys pulled the Coach: Icon, Shadow, Milford Haven, Echo, Knightsbridge and Tyrone. They are magnificent creatures, dressed in royal blue braids, dating back to Queen Victoria’s coronation. These Windsor Greys underwent weeks of predawn walking the parade route. The crown at the top of the carriage has a camera inside to video events.

The Windsor Greys who pulled the Diamond Jubilee Coach

Camilla was on our side of the street for this ride to Westminster Abbey.

After the King and Queen had passed by, fatigue set in again. Now we had to remain standing in the cramped atmosphere until the Coronation service was over. Lord have mercy, I thought I was going to pass out!

1:00pm The Coronation Procession from Westminster Abbey back to Buckingham Palace began. This was an outstanding display of military marching. 

The impressive military procession, led by Brigade Major Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw, riding Sovereign's Shadow, was made up of more than 4,000 members of the armed forces from around the commonwealth and the UK. Grenadier Guards,  the Household Calvary, and the King's Troop were lined up in front of us waiting for the signal to begin. The preciseness was brilliant to see in person as thousands of men and women marched to the same beat and the same tunes. The King and his Queen road in The Gold State Coach which is 260 years old and valued at 2.5 million dollars. This Coach weighs four tons and requires eight Windsor Grey horses to pull it—Meg and Newark joined the other horses for this journey.

Brigade Major Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw led the Procession and said "It was one of the most important days of his life!"  I say "Well done, Sir!"

The Prince and Princess of Wales with their children definitely got a lot of cheers from the crowd!

Meg and Newark joined the other Windsor Greys to help pull the Gold State Coach

Charles was on our side of the street for the ride back to Buckingham Palace.

Tens of thousands of people braved the cold, rainy weather to cheer on the King and Queen. We definitely witnessed pomp, pageantry, and splendour. It was an extraordinary day in history…one that will surely live long in my memory!  God Save The King!